Peter Gronquist’s work dazzles with glittering bling and sex appeal — that is, at a first glance, until one begins to notice all of the subtle nods to death and destruction caused by, presumably, excess. His artworks are fast and furious vanitas. Like the Renaissance-era genre of still life, Gronquist’s sculptures entice the viewer with their display of opulence while simultaneously evoking mortality.
In his current show, “Make Stuff” at Shooting Gallery in San Francisco, taxidermy animal heads peer at the viewer from all directions, their horns gilded and protruding much farther than any creature’s would in the wild. The beasts might look empowered with the shiny AKs extending from their horns, but their heads are ultimately the prized trophies of a hunt. A sculpture of a ballooning gown (one that recalls the likes of Marie Antoinette) hangs suspended inside the gallery, floating ominously with light emanating from the inside. The muddled figures in Gronquist’s paintings appear to fade away like a ghostly whisper. For the all the dark connotations within the show, as a whole, the body of work comes off as surprisingly light. Gronquist provides different layers for the viewer to engage with in this visual feast.